When your child is the exception
by Chrissy Edgerton
Who doesn’t like to celebrate? We all plan get togethers from time to time but how you attend can change when your child has a medical issue. It is easy to accommodate your child when you host events, but who wants to host every time. We love to go to visit grandparents and friends. Our children love it even more. For them visiting is a treat that they look forward to from the moment they hear we are going to be going somewhere. However, even the most well intentioned family and friends sometimes forget about the accommodations that your little people require. There are a few things you can do to make sure any event goes off without a hitch.
As awkward as it may be to have to call to ask if a host can be accommodating for your child it is always best to ask first. Family and close friends who are already aware of your child’s medical issues are usually willing to make sure your child feels welcome and will take a few extra steps to make sure everyone has fun.
We have a daughter who has scarring on her brain that causes epilepsy and a few behaviors that we have to put more energy into. For years she was extremely afraid of water. Every bath was a huge event. My in-laws planned a family trip to the beach which we all wanted to participate in. Even my little one wanted to go, she just didn’t want to be near the water. My husband and I hadn’t been to the beach in years and were dreading sitting out the entire time. We discussed our concerns with my husband’s sister and brother in-law and it turned out that the brother in-law had didn’t really want to get in the water at all. We brought plenty of toys, a large umbrella, and several picnic blankets. I sat out with my daughter for a little while to discuss with her how we enjoyed playing in the water but she could have fun in the sand. After playing with her uncle for a few minutes she sent me happily on my way into the water with the rest of the family. Everyone had a great time. Had we not spoken up beforehand either my husband or myself would have missed out on the water fun and my brother in-law would have been forced to play in the water when he didn’t want to.
Sometimes celebrations are not with close friends but your children are still welcome This could be birthday parties or large group meetings. In times like these it may be easier to ask about activities and the planned menu and just plan to bring your own accommodations. In general though, you have not because you ask not. Our children are conditioned to ask for any of their needs or wants. We should be willing to overcome our anxieties and ask for our children’s needs too.
Even the best of us forget things from time to time. There have been times we took our children to large family dinners and my own parents had added milk to dishes we didn’t think would have had milk. We have to learn not to set expectations for others that we wouldn’t set for ourselves. And as anyone knows, when you plan an event, something will inevitably go wrong.
We learned quickly to call and confirm that our hosts would be accommodating our children with severe food allergies. By just calling we ensure that Papi (as my kids call my dad) doesn’t forget to set some food aside before adding milk or nuts. This small step is prudent in adverting crisis. The last thing you want to do is be blindsided with a bad situation for your child when you have already planned for them to be included.
Be Your Own Backup Plan
If at all possible always have a backup plan. That may mean bringing a travel activity or your child’s favorite dish. If you bring a backup plan and don’t need it that is wonderful. It can be presented as a thoughtful gift for your celebration. In the event you do need your backup plan you can act quickly to ensure your child does not feel left out. Your backup plan doesn’t have to be big or extravagant. It could be bringing bubbles to a party that would overload your child normally or bringing cookies since your child can’t have cake. Whatever it is you want to check with your host when you arrive at your event to be sure it is ok to use and to see if it is even needed.
Having a child with medical issues can bring it’s own challenges but with a little forethought you can overcome them and be worthy of that best parent ever mug you will undoubtedly get at some point.
Feel free to comment and tell us about the times you had to advocate for your child around friends and family. We love to hear from you.